Premier Li Keqiang and his Croatian counterpart, Andrej Plenkovic, visited the construction site for the Peljesac Bridge on the Peljesac Peninsula in southern Croatia on April 11.
The project is not only the largest infrastructure project undertaken by Chinese enterprises in Croatia, but also the first major project in the European Union (EU) acquired by Chinese enterprises through global bidding, which is funded by EU and abides by EU rules.
The bridge is of great significance not only for the development of Croatia, but also for relations between China and the EU.
Plenkovic hailed the bridge not only as a link to all of Croatia, but also as a means of facilitating travel for Croatian people, improving local development and setting a good example for China-EU practical cooperation.
Visiting the construction site of the bridge took more than five hours round trip for Premier Li.
“We Croatian people have been pining for the bridge for over 20 years. Now it’s going to come true with the help with our Chinese friends,” Plenkovic said to Premier Li.
Spanning 2,440 meters, the Peljesac Bridge will connect the Peljesac Peninsula with the mainland of Croatia. The historic project commenced in 2018, after the China Road & Bridge Corp won the bidding.
“Apart from the geographical connection, the Peljesac Bridge will also bring substantial convenience to local people’s life and inject abundant vigor into local development. And it will play an exemplary role in the China-Croatia pragmatic cooperation,” Plenkovic said.
According to the provincial governor of Dubrovnik — Neretva, the province had been isolated from the Croatian mainland for historical and geographical reasons. Customs clearance had been a routine for local residents.
“Once the bridge is done, it will take just a couple of minutes instead of hours for local residents going to the Croatian mainland,” the governor said.
A local senator echoed that statement, saying that designers of the project took into consideration the fact that the bridge is situated within EU marine conservation areas. The project will progress in conformity with the EU environmental protection standards.
According to related materials, nearly 85 percent of the project cost will be covered by EU funds, and the building materials and environment requirement should abide by EU’s standards and be under its supervision. “All is going well so far,” a manager from the Chinese side told the Premier.
After learning about key aspects of the project, Premier Li said to Plenkovic that Croatia has chosen a competitive builder. “I do not only mean this enterprise, but others, too. Chinese enterprises have accumulated abundant experience in infrastructure construction, which is barely seen in other countries,” he said, adding that Chinese companies would complete projects on time and with high quality.
Plenkovic said he is impressed by the achievements of China in infrastructure over the past 40 years. “What I said is based on my own witness last year, when I visited China. Today I’m more assured after hearing your words.”
While visiting the project site, Premier Li also talked with the Chinese migrant workers and asked about their work and living conditions.
The Premier stressed timely payment of wages for the workers, who he said were making contributions to the overseas project.
At the construction site, Premier Li said the Peljesac Bridge project, acquired by Chinese enterprises through fair competition and public bidding, follows market principles and abides by rules of the European Union (EU).
It is “a bridge of friendship” as it embodies the friendship of Chinese and Croatian people, and is conducive to regional peace, stability and prosperity, he said.
The bridge is also “a bridge of welfare” as it will help facilitate logistics, personnel exchanges and life of local residents to improve the country’s social and economic development, the Premier added.
The bridge is “a model of three-way cooperation among China, Croatia and the EU,” Premier Li said, adding that Chinese enterprises will build the bridge with the best equipment and technology.
As the Premier was concluding his speech, the rain was gaining strength, hitting the roof of the tent. The Premier said the heavy rain outside shows that the bridge can withstand all the tests.
He also asked the Chinese consortium to make all efforts to ensure the completion of the project as scheduled, to benefit the Croatian people as soon as possible.